activists

Fighting for Aleppo

How Syria’s Forgotton Revolutionaries Rose Up “To Kill This Fear”

syria-protest-article-e1477073983449

Demonstrators chant slogans and hold Syrian flags during a protest against the Assad regime in the opposition-controlled Kafr Hamrah village of Aleppo, Syria, on March 25, 2016.

 

As Naji Jerf stepped out of an office building in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep last December, a man walked up to him and fired two shots from a silenced pistol, striking Jerf in the head and chest and killing him instantly.

Jerf, 38, was a Syrian filmmaker and journalist who had become a popular activist during the revolution. A fierce critic of both the Assad regime and the Islamic State, he had received numerous death threats in the months before he was killed. Shortly after his murder, the Islamic State issued a statement claiming responsibility and Turkish authorities arrested three men in connection with the shooting.

Jerf is only one of the innumerable Syrian revolutionary activists who have lost their lives over the past five years. An editor and documentarian, he helped train a generation of young Syrians to continue the fight for democracy in their country. But his story, and the stories of those like him who continue the spirit of the 2011 uprising, rarely register in broader narratives of the conflict. For all they have sacrificed, their struggles have gone largely ignored, in a framing of the conflict that has been convenient for the Assad government.

Leila Shami, co-author of the book “Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War,” told me, “The Syrian government has taken huge efforts to frame the conflict as one solely between themselves and extremist groups. People are not aware that there is a third option in Syria, that there are many Syrians from a wide range of backgrounds who are still fighting for the original goals of the revolution.”

Shami added, “Syria has had so many heroes, but people often don’t know who they are.”

Syrian students outside the damaged building of the University of Aleppo before sitting their exams on January 29, 2013, after the institution re-opened following an explosion earlier in the month, in northern Syria's city of Aleppo. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the blast on January 15, which caused a number of causalities, but said its origin was unclear. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian students stand outside a damaged building at the University of Aleppo on Jan. 29, 2013, after the institution re-opened following an explosion earlier in the month. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Khalifa al-Khadr was one of those whose lives Naji Jerf had touched. A student at Aleppo University when the war began, he now belongs to a new generation of writers and journalists committed to carrying on the goals of the revolution. Last week in Gaziantep, on the Turkish-Syrian border, Khadr sat drinking tea at a bustling outdoor restaurant, occasionally rising to greet other young Syrians who now also call this Turkish city home.

“When all this started, we were mostly too young to have any kind of ideology,” Khadr told me. “The reason we rose up was to just kill fear. To kill this fear that we had all been living under as a society.”

Khadr looked younger than his 23 years. He wore glasses, an orange jacket, and a beige scarf wrapped around his neck. The revolution had begun when he was only 17. It came to consume every aspect of his life and worldview. Despite his youthful appearance, he spoke with the serious intensity of someone who had come of age during war. On his cellphone, the background photo was a picture of a young Syrian girl killed in a government bombardment of the city of Idlib.

khalifa-al-khadr-article

Khalifa al-Khadr in a photo taken on May 30, 2015. Photo: Khalifa al-Khadr/Facebook

“When protests began at Aleppo University several years ago, we held them for only 15 or 20 minutes, just to show solidarity with other cities under attack and then disperse before the security forces came for us,” he recalled. “We were not calling for Assad to fall, just to remove the emergency laws and allow some space for democracy in the country.”When the government met those protests with brutal violence, Khadr saw sentiments harden among his fellow students. Now they realized that the government would choose force over incremental reform, and they began calling for bringing down the regime. Some spoke of taking up arms in self-defense.

 

 

 

As it turned out, they wouldn’t have to. In the summer of 2012, rebel fighters from surrounding villages swept into Aleppo and captured several key districts from government control. The people of Aleppo were divided in their response to the rebels’ arrival. Some wealthy residents were uneasy with the influx of poor, rural fighters. Even among those who had supported the uprising, there were divisions and concerns. Khadr didn’t share them. “I was excited,” he told me. “I felt like we were about to be part of something that was going to free the country.”

But as the war ground into a stalemate, many people fled Aleppo, and then Syria itself. Khadr was among the activists who stayed. He was continuing the revolution by other means: building an archive of photos and videos to document developments in opposition-held areas, and writing about his own experiences and observations of the uprising. In one passage of a longer reminiscence, he wrote about a childhood friend who took part in the revolution only to later turn away from it by joining the militant group the Islamic State:

A choke comes between memory and the bitter reality. The choke kills me and forbids me from mourning him. If I were an armed fighter, I would have killed him the minute I saw him on the battlefield, to save his soul. To prevent him from infecting others, to prevent his soul from sinking into others’ blood.

I won’t mourn your deeds, even if the one you killed was my own father. As you have loyalties of your own, I have loyalty to our revolution, more sacred than yours.

Syrian protesters gather in demonstration against the regime in the Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood of the northern city of Aleppo on November 9, 2012. Syria President Bashar al-Assad said his future could only be decided at the ballot box and denied Syria was in a state of civil war, despite fresh attacks and heavy fighting near the Turkish border. AFP PHOTO/ACHILLEAS ZAVALLIS (Photo credit should read ACHILLEAS ZAVALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian protesters gather to demonstrate against the Assad regime in the Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood of the northern city of Aleppo on Nov. 9, 2012. Photo: Achilleas Zavallis/AFP/Getty Images

The culture of the revolution had imprinted itself indelibly on Khadr’s personality, as it had on those of many other young Syrians. Creating a “Free Syria” — free from oppression and upholding basic rights like freedom of expression and equal treatment under the law — had become the guiding purpose of his life. Like many others, Khadr felt compelled both to write and to seek out like-minded young Syrians.It was through social media that he first met Naji Jerf three years ago. Khadr was engaged in a debate with other young Syrian activists on Facebook when Jerf, known to many of them as the editor of the Syrian revolutionary news outlet Hentah, “liked” his status, part of a Facebook conversation that had begun around the quote “Man does not live on bread alone.” The two began messaging and Jerf invited Khadr to take part in a media workshop he had arranged for young activists in southern Turkey, where Jerf was then based.

Jerf became a mentor and adviser to Khadr, encouraging him to develop his writing and publishing his articles periodically on Hentah. While Khadr lived between relatives’ and friends’ homes in different areas of opposition-held Syria, he would occasionally cross the border to Gaziantep to meet with Jerf and other activists. In the relative calm of Turkey, they would spend days talking and reflecting on the future of their country — discussions that helped shape the nascent worldviews of Khadr and the other young activists.

“Syrians have tried secularism, nationalism, Islamism, and they have all failed in various ways,” Khadr told me. “The reality is that it doesn’t matter what the orientation of the government is per se. What matters is that the ruling system respects the rights of citizens and protects them from injustice.”

Under the Assad regime, Syria had become a police state whose prisons were notorious for torture, murder, and indefinite detention. Many activists, including Ghiath Matar, known as “Syria’s Gandhi,” and the Syrian anarchist philosopher Omar Aziz, had lost their lives in Syria’s torturous detention facilities.

“Even before the revolution, we all grew up hearing stories of people who disappeared, we knew the fear this created,” Khadr reflected. He told me that now he dreams of a country with “no prisons” — a country where the all-encompassing fear that characterized Baathist rule is finally removed.

naji-jerf-grave-article

The grave of Naji Jerf, a Syrian filmmaker and journalist killed in Gaziantep, Turkey, last December. Photo: Khalifa al-Khadr/Facebook

 

The outside narrative of the Syrian conflict, which focuses exclusively on the actions of armed groups and states, has minimized or excluded a significant dimension. The revolution fostered a Syrian civil society that continues to fight for the future of the country. Across cities and small towns in Syria, in areas that have slipped from the central government’s grip and are free of Islamic State control, local councils operate that provide a semblance of democratic rule in a country that, in its modern history, has known only totalitarianism. A huge array of new independent newspapers, radio stations, and video production companies has arisen, giving voice to a people who had long been either silenced or forced to consume Soviet-style Baathist propaganda. Khadr’s life, like the lives of many other Syrians of his generation, has been irreversibly transformed by the events of the revolution. Though he is still young, he exudes a brash confidence and poise. “All my old friends from before, when I was just a student, we lost touch and don’t talk anymore,” he said, fingering a string of beads wrapped around his fingers. “Everyone who is a friend to me today, they are people I shared experiences with during the revolution.”

Khadr was back in Syria last December when he received the message informing him that Naji Jerf had been murdered. In a Facebook post that day, Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah lamented that people like Jerf — Syrian civil revolutionaries who had given their lives for the freedom of the country — had been effectively airbrushed out of history.

“Syrians who have dedicated so much for principle and stood against tyranny and extremism [receive] no real recognition,” Jarrah wrote. “This mess of misinformation says that there are two sides fighting (Assad and ISIS) with little mention of those that oppose both wrongs. Those like Naji.”

In Muslim societies, funerals are typically held within a few days of death. Despite Khadr’s wishes, he could not cross the border back to Turkey in time to attend his friend’s farewell.

“Death has a different meaning in different cultures. At the beginning you mourn, but then, when so many begin to die, you have to find a way to stop mourning them and just keep going,” he told me, emotion slowly creeping into his voice.

“When I think of Naji now, I remember the things he taught me and I say: Your memory is my path.”

Top photo: Demonstrators chant slogans and hold Syrian flags during a protest against the Assad regime in the opposition-controlled Kafr Hamrah village of Aleppo, Syria, on March 25, 2016.

Contact the author:

Murtaza Hussainmurtaza.hussain@theintercept.com@mazmhussain

Article from: https://theintercept.com/2016/10/23/how-syrias-forgotten-revolutionaries-rose-up-to-kill-this-fear/

 

ISIS and Assad, both are the same!

Syrian civilians were stabbed, raped and killed by their own President Bashar al-Assad.
Pray for Syria!

Hadi Abdallah, a Syrian activist in Homs, told AFP the bodies of 26 children and 21 women, some with their throats slit and others bearing stab wounds, were found after a “massacre” in the Karm el-Zaytoun and Al-Adawiyeh neighbourhoods of the besieged central city.

“Some of the children had been hit with blunt objects on their head, one little girl was mutilated and some women were raped before being killed,” he said.

Massacre in Homs, Syria by Assad Regime

Articles:
47 bodies found after ‘massacre’ in Homs: Syria opposition
http://multimedia.asiaone.com/static/multimedia/gallery/120313_homs/

Syria Freedom Forever – سوريا الحرية للأبد
http://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/assad-and-isis-theyre-both-the-same/

Bashar al-Assad
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bashar_al-Assad

Syrian soldiers shot for refusing to fire on protesters

Syria Unsung Heroes
Syrian soldier ‘ordered to fire’ on peaceful unarmed protesters

According to Lt. Col. Hussein Harmoush, a high ranking Syrian military defector, in many instances special security forces formed a second line behind soldiers, to make sure they shot at protestors. If they don’t, he said, they were shot themselves. He claimed 90 percent of soldiers killed in protests had gunshot wounds in their backs.

“He says there are in Syria about 3,000 IRGC men and 2,000 HZ fighters, in addition to 300 Amal Movement men [i.e. Lebanese Resistance Detachments] and 200 [Syrian National Socialist Party] militiamen.The IRGC men are leading the pro-regime armed gangs. Syrian soldiers who refuse to open fire on protesters are killed by the Iranians and pro-Syrian Lebanese allies. The Iranians and Lebanese usually stand behind Syrian troops and kill Syrian soldiers immediately if they refuse to open fire. The 17 Syrian troops dumped in the Orontes River in Hama were killed by HZ men.”

Syrian soldiers refused taking order to shoot unarmed innocent syrian protesters were executed by Assad Regime

Syrian soldiers were executed by Assad Regime for refusing orders to shoot peaceful protesters!

Read more articles:
http://www.pri.org/stories/2011-09-29/syrian-soldiers-refusing-shoot-civilians-executed-say-reports

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/04/02/143894/syrian-military-kills-civilians.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/bi-leaked-stratfor-emials-iranians-firing-on-syrians-2012-3

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/syrian-soldier-ordered-fire-peaceful-protesters-2011-06-09

#Syria #ASSAD #AssadCrimes #AssadWarcrimes #AssadGenocide #AssadHolocaust #syria_crisis #syria_conflict #syriacivilwar #torture #syrian_torture #syrian_refugees #childrenofsyria #Damascus #Aleppo

Syria Civil war caused $15 billion in damage

Assad Regime War Crimes
$15 Billion+ in damage
Over 250,000 Killed including 20,000 children
Over 1.1 million injured & thousands maimed
Over 11,000 tortured to death & countless raped
Over 250,000 detained
Over 9 million displaced
Over 3 million refugees
Over 2 million properties destroyed

Syria civil war caused $15 billion in damage

Article: http://www.timesofisrael.com/syrian-civil-war-caused-15b-in-damage-official-claims/

Syria Torture Charmers- Systematically Torture and Kill

27 detention centers across Syria where torture was systematically inflicted on prisoners: men, women, senior citizen and children, according to testimonies from more than 200 former prisoners and security officers who defected.

Brutal torture in Syria by mukhabarat, or secret police:
a) Department of Military Intelligence
b) Political Security Directorate
c) General Intelligence Directorate
d) Air Force Intelligence Directorate.

One boy came into the cell bleeding from behind. He couldn’t walk. It was something they just did to the boys.

1) “basat al reeh” in which the prisoner is tied to a board and beaten
2) “dulab” in which torturers force the prisoner’s legs and head into a car tire before beating them
3) They threw cold water on our naked bodies and they also urinated on us
4) They pulled out my toenail by pliers and forced me to eat them
5) Electric shocks to genitals
6) Make prisoners suck their own blood on the floor
7) Syrian hospitals are torture chamber: Calcium injections by Doctors and Nurses, intravenously and rapidly causing cardiac arrest, or by using high doses of insulin causing hypoglycemic coma and finally death.”
8) Syrian soldiers, most of whom “were shot from behind when they refused to kill the civilians.”
9) Sexual violence in detention is one of many horrific weapons in the Syrian government’s torture arsenal and Syrian security forces regularly use it to humiliate and degrade detainees with complete impunity
10) Systemic torture and killing of detained persons – Emaciated, beaten or strangled
11) Starvation
12) Constantly being beaten with a cable or a stick
13) The guards particularly liked to deliver blows to your fingernails
14) “water boarding”, this method of torture includes electricity and water
15) Syrian intelligence officers, soldiers and pro-government militias as the ones who detain, torture and rape civilians
16) Rape is a common tactic to silence the opposition
17) They used electric stun guns on my genitals
18) Hang detainees from the ceilings by their hands for days
19) They pour hot water on people and whip them
20) Sexual threats against the detainees and their families
21) Government forces and pro-government shabiha militia members have also sexually assaulted women and girls during home raids and residential sweeps
22) One boy came into the cell bleeding from behind. He couldn’t walk. It was something they just did to the boys.

brutal torture in Syria

Read more articles:

Brutal torture in Syria
http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/03/world/meast/syria-torture-report/index.html


Syrian military defector: ‘Those who were injected are lucky’

http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/02/syrian-military-defector-those-who-were-injected-are-lucky/

Starved, tortured then throttled: The true horror of how Assad’s soldiers execute rebel prisoners
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2544711/Starved-tortured-throttled-The-true-horror-Assads-soldiers-execute-rebel-prisoners-revealed-new-images-released-today.html

Survivors Of Syria’s Torture Chambers Describe Horror
http://www.worldcrunch.com/syria-crisis/survivors-of-syria-039-s-torture-chambers-describe-horror/syria-assad-mezzeh-torture-free-syria-army/c13s14893/#.VE1F_xaQRCQ

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/12/syrians-describe-brutal-prison-torture-20131225112419339627.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/syria-crisis-sexual-violence_n_1599242.html

Assad: Terrorize the society and dry up the revolution

Syrians are being plucked off the street by Syrian security forces and paramilitaries and being ‘disappeared’ into torture cells.

“This is a deliberate strategy to terrorise families and communities – the panic of not knowing whether your husband or child is alive breeds such fear that it silences dissent.

Conflict in Syria

Read more articles:
85,000 persons forcibly disappeared in Syrian prisons
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13888-85000-persons-forcibly-disappeared-in-syrian-prisons

Up to 28,000 Syrians have ‘disappeared’ since uprising began
>http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/oct/18/28000-syrians-disappeared-uprising

There is no place left here for the regime after what they did to Hamza. Hamza Ali al-Khateeb was only 13 years old.
“His head was swollen, purple and disfigured. His body was a mess of welts, cigarette burns and wounds from bullets fired to injure, not kill. His kneecaps had been smashed, his neck broken, his jaw shattered and his penis cut off.

http://jonestream.blogspot.com/2011/05/syria-torture-forced-disappearance.html

http://al-shabaka.org/node/778

Crisis in Syria- Biggest humanitarian catastrophe in the modern era

More than a million Syrians have flooded into Lebanon. Underemployed and poor.

These people are just trying to keep living while the rest of the world ignores them.

“These are people who have paid the highest price and, in the end, they will explode and the explosion will be a catastrophe for the whole region.”

Syrian children dying

Read more articles:
Syria Has a Massive Rape Crisis
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/syria-has-a-massive-rape-crisis/274583/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/11094256/Syria-crisis-support-for-Assad-starting-to-fade-as-allies-become-disillusioned-by-setbacks.html

%d bloggers like this: